Employee wellbeing written on a laptop keyboard key.

Workplace Wellness Programs: What are Their Benefits and are They Worth It?

Over the past few years, it’s become commonplace for employers to offer increasingly enticing incentives to their employees. One such incentive is workplace wellness programs. This can be a great tool to sharpen the minds and bodies of employees. But one question usually remains when discussing workplace wellness programs. What benefits are in it for the company that provides them, and are they worth it?

Workplace wellness programs may be linked to advantages such as healthier employees and lower health insurance premiums. But there’s no hard evidence to suggest that these programs have a high return on investment. Additionally, it can be difficult to determine the exact benefits of having a happier and healthier workforce. If you’re interested in implementing a workplace wellness program or want to better understand what the pros or cons of having one might be, read on to learn more.

Why Spend Money on Workplace Wellness Programs?

There are many reasons why a workplace wellness program might be worth it for your employees. Some of them include the following:

Return on Investment

ROI associated with workplace wellness programs varies substantially. It has been proposed that wellness programs can help lower health insurance premiums and reduce workers’ compensation claims. The wide range of available information likely has to do with the fact that research on the subject has been extremely limited. As well as the fact that different companies report different levels of investment from employers and involvement from employees. Some studies have shown that the effects of ROI on workplace wellness programs are likely being underestimated, making these programs worthy of a closer look.

Increased Productivity

Workplace wellness programs might not immediately save you money on health insurance payments. But it could have other rewards or longer-term financial benefits. For example, wellness workplace programs have been shown to reduce absenteeism, disability, and turnover, in addition to increasing productivity. This means that you could see big savings after implementing a wellness program. Just not exactly when or where you might expect them.

Improve Culture

Showing your staff that you care by introducing a new workplace wellness program can have big results. A happier staff is a healthier staff, and happy, healthy employees are likely to attract top talent to your company. Additionally, a happy staff is more likely to feel energized to interact with peers, thus improving your company culture; they could even improve the quality of ideas that are thrown out during brainstorming or presented to clients. A workplace wellness program can be a good way to attract and retain high-quality employees. Especially if you’re unable to offer them a more generous array of benefits.

Embrace a Holistic View of Wellness 

Your employees all have different wellness needs. What might work for a young, fit, non-smoker, may not be ideal for an older employee who’s hoping to quit smoking or start going to the gym. What does this mean for you? Ideally, it means that your workplace wellness program should be holistic and cover a wide array of wellness services. From mental health to exercise to smoking cessation. Additionally, it means that your program should be accessible and appealing to all of your employees. From busy parents looking for healthy recipes to lifelong smokers who are finally ready to quit.

The easiest way to know what your staff wants is to ask them. The same workplace wellness program won’t work the same at two different companies or even in two different departments within the same company. It’s important to make sure that you’re checking in with the people who will actually be using your program. Maybe your employees are all in need of healthy recipes and mental health tips. Or maybe they’re looking for a way to sweat through their stress with daily pre-work cardio classes. No matter what their needs, it’s important to listen in order to craft a workplace wellness program that helps you get the best possible ROI.

Workplace wellness programs concept, diverse group of employees meditating in the office.

Spread the Word

Let’s face it — making a major life change such as incorporating wellness into your daily routine isn’t always easy. There’s a chance your employees will need to be reminded multiple times about your program and its benefits before they take advantage of it. Remind your employees however you can. Whether in a team meeting or in periodic reminder emails, but be sure to only provide positive reinforcement and even offer incentives. After all, no one wants to get berated at work for not utilizing a wellness program frequently enough. Make sure to remind your employees of its perks, use them yourself, and check-in when you see an opportunity for improvement.

Ideas for a Low-Budget Workplace Wellness Program

Implementing a highly effective workplace wellness program doesn’t need to require all of your time and money. Some low-budget ideas include:

  • Create a digital office cookbook by asking each employee to contribute one healthy recipe of their choosing.
  • Provide a space for employees to meet up before or after work to follow a yoga tutorial on YouTube.
  • Organize a monthly office book club focused on books that can easily be borrowed from a library.
  • Encourage employees to go for walks during lunchtime or to eat in a designated outdoor space.
  • Allow employees to use a designated room for relaxation, meditation, or rest as needed during the workday.

Final Words

One major concern to keep in mind while establishing a workplace wellness program is liability. All wellness programs should be based on voluntary participation. And should be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). When designing your wellness program, it’s important to include your legal counsel in the process.

For all other concerns, we’re here to help. At Pioneer, we can look into options for your employee benefit plans. And bring you back a detailed proposal and our analysis on what makes the most sense for your company. Best of all, our service is free. And we can usually help you save about 30% on what you’re currently paying. Bring us your complicated questions and let us help you sort them out.

Are you ready to start cutting costs? Contact us today to get started.